welcome, october.

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i live in a beautiful place. be jelly.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
– L.M. Montgomery

Fall is my favorite season.  Sweaters, freshly-sharpened pencils (bouquets of them), scarfs, knee-high boots, fuzzy socks, and amazing colors are everywhere.  I live in the mountains, so I’m blessed with a lot of gorgeous mountain views, which are at their peak of beauty in autumn.  And movie marathons in snuggly blankets (which I did last night, complete with some spiced cider) are definitely a plus, too.  I’m not a huge pumpkin spice latte fan or anything (GASP), but I love pumpkins and hot chocolate and warm desserts.  (And I wonder why I get a little chubbier this time of year…)

Ever since I read Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments, I’ve always put the following conversation with this season.

From: Beth Fremont

To: Jennifer Scribner-Snyder

Sent: Thurs, 10/14/1999 11:09 AM

Subject: October, at last!

Callooh! Callay!

<<Jennifer to Beth>> At last? October is half over. And what’s in October anyway?

<<Beth to Jennifer>> Not “what’s in,” what is. October. My favorite month. Which, by the way, has only half begun.

Some find it melancholy. “October,” Bono sings, “and the trees are stripped bare . . .”

Not I. There’s a chill in the air that lifts my heart and makes my hair stand on end. Every moment feels meant for me. In October, I’m the star of my own movie—I hear the soundtrack in my head (right now, it’s “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”)—and I have faith in my own rising action.

I was born in February, but I come alive in October.

<<Jennifer to Beth>> You’re a nut.

<<Beth to Jennifer>> A hazelnut. A filbert.

October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup. October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins.

O autumn! O teakettle! O grace!

<<Jennifer to Beth>> I do love tiny candy bars.

<<Beth to Jennifer>> Merry October!

<<Jennifer to Beth>> All right, Merry October! Why not?

Are there other factors in your unreasonably good mood? Non-autumnal reasons?

<<Beth to Jennifer>> Nope, I don’t think so. I had a really crappy night last night—I went to a Sacajawea party with Chris—but I think that’s actually enhancing my good mood today. I woke up thinking about how, no matter how bad everything else is, there’s still October.

from Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

What are some of your favorite things about Fall?

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my favorite stanley tucci roles.

If you know anything about me, you probably know that, just like literally every other fangirl on the planet, I have a thing for older actors.  Chris Pratt, Chris Evans, Chris Pine (and all the other Chrises), Zachary Levi, Benadryl Cucumberpatch… basically every guy who’s like ten years older than me.  Which totally isn’t weird at all.

(DISCLAIMER: I don’t want to have their babies or anything, I just admire the work the good Lord has done and move on.)

One of my favorite actors is Stanley Tucci.  I have no idea how long I’ve loved him but it’s been a while.  (Now that I think about it, he was in a few of my favorite childhood movies, namely Kit Kittredge, Beethoven, and Robots.  Well, that explains it – my love for him was cemented before I really knew who he was.)

I love his versatility as an actor, the roles he chooses, and just him.  I love the fact that he seems to make every movie better just by being in it, no matter how small his part is.  I love the fact that he can play every part with the same amount of skill, regardless of how sweet or twisted the character is.  And I love that he has other talents than just acting, such as cooking.  My sister actually gave me his cookbook for my birthday and I fangirled. A lot.  (I also have another friend who knows how much I love him – one of the things we initially bonded over was our mutual weirdly passionate love for Stanley – and sometimes sends me random Stanley gifs and pictures via text.  You know who you are and I. Love. You.)

I love every movie I’ve seen him in, but I’d like to highlight my absolute favorites.  In no order, as usual, because I sat here for twenty minutes trying to figure it out and I. just. can’t.  I love the man too much.

All of these movies come with the usual disclaimer, though.  They’re all PG-13 and have the kind of content that’s in a PG-13 movie.  If you’re interested in watching one of these but are hesitant about the content, don’t hesitate to ask me!  (Or look on each specific title’s Parents Guide on IMDb.  SO HELPFUL.)

The Terminal | Frank Dixon

“Okay, so let’s say this bag of potato chips is Krakozhia and this apple is the Liberty Rebels. Okay?  *smashes the bag with the apple, spraying chips all over Viktor*  No more Krakozhia!”

This one’s kind of different for Stanley.  Usually he plays very likeable characters.  This one, not so much.  The Terminal is about a foreign guy (Tom Hanks) whose country falls literally while he’s on the plane.  He’s stuck in JFK until they can get his passport figured out, and Stanley plays the guy who keeps him there.  Essentially, he’s the antagonist.  This is the only movie I’ve ever seen where he’s a bad guy (minus the Kit movie, which, come on, does that even count?), and he’s absolutely riveting.  You understand why he’s so against Tom’s character – he’s just doing his job, after all – but you still dislike him because of other things he does.  So. Good.

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Mr. Monk and the Actor | David Ruskin

“And then he said he was tired and asked me to leave.”
“So you left?”
“He has to get up at 6:00.”
“Mr. Monk, that’s your house!”
“Boy, he’s a good actor.”

My siblings and I were on a Monk kick for about two years, and when I saw that Stanley co-starred in an episode, I couldn’t wait to see it!  Turns out, it was absolutely fantastic.  Definitely one of my favorite episodes of the show.  In this episode, a director wants to make a movie about a case Adrian worked on, and Stanley plays the actor hired to play Adrian.  He’s a method actor, and he captures Monk perfectly.  It’s scary how similar they look!  Also, Stanley won an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.”  (No surprise there – he was phenomenal.)

Julie and Julia | Paul Child

“Anyway, so there we were in China, just friends having dinner.  And… and it turned out to be Julia.  It turned out to be Julia all along.  Julia, you are the butter to my bread and the breath to my life.  I love you, darling girl.  Happy Valentine’s Day.”

This is one of my favorite movies, mainly because it involves three of my favorite things – writing, food, and romance.  It’s one of my go-to chick flicks, and it has some of my favorite actors in it, including Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Chris Messina, and, of course, Stanley Tucci.  In this one, Stanley plays Julia Child’s husband, ever the encourager as she learns to cook.  His character is just the most precious man, and it’s blatantly apparent that he loves his wife, which Stanley plays to perfection (and makes me love him even more).

Easy A  | Dill Penderghast

“I’d take a bullet for you, you know that. Right between the eyes. I would slit my throat rather than say something to someone that you didn’t want me to say.  That’s how I am.  That’s how I roll.  That’s how I do.”

OKAY.  This is definitely my favorite movie on this list.  As I said in my “movies i don’t like” post,  my favorite genre is probably rom-com, my favorite actor is Stanley Tucci, and my favorite actress is Emma Stone, which obviously means this is one of my favorite movies of all time because it combines all. three. things.  Plus it’s just good.  The cast is phenomenal, the story is so good, and the humor is fantastic.  Anyway, in this one, Stanley plays the main character’s dad who stands by her as she goes through all of this mess at school.  And he’s just so funny.  The above quote is from one of my favorite scenes, one which I personally find funny because I have adopted black siblings like Olive.  In addition to all that, Dill and Rosemary are just the kind of parents I aspire my husband and I to be.  #LiteralParentGoals. (Gosh, this movie’s so good.  I may have to review it sometime.)

Captain America: The First Avenger | Dr. Abraham Erskine

“Whatever happens tomorrow, you must promise me one thing. That you will stay who you are, not a perfect soldier, but a good man.”

Let’s be honest – who didn’t completely fall in love with Dr. Erskine the second he walked on the screen???  He was obviously typecast as The Death That Would Inspire The Hero, but Stanley brought so much more to the role than most other characters like that – and I’d argue that he’s the best.  He inspires Steve to be more than he thinks he’s capable of, and encourages him to accept the super-soldier serum.  And that speech.  GAH.  Plus, he calls Steve “Steven.”  HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE HIM?!

The Hunger Games | Caesar Flickerman

“But you know what?  [Bleep] that! And [bleep] everybody that had anything to do with it!”
“All right, then. One woman’s opinion.”

My favorite part about Stanley-as-Caesar is just how likeable he is.  It’s apparent that Stanley read the books because that’s, like, the crux of the character in the book.  There are literally paragraphs describing how Caesar brings out the best in all of the tributes, even the incredibly shy ones who have close to nothing to say.  Stanley obviously did his research because that’s exactly how he plays him – a nuanced, larger-than-life TV host who is hungry for the adulation for the crowd and whose effervescence masks his true vulnerability.  Also, I’ve heard that Caesar is one of Stanley’s favorite roles.  Which is just amazing.

The Devil Wears Prada | Nigel Kippling

“You think this is just a magazine, hmm? This is not just a magazine. This is a shining beacon of hope for… oh, I don’t know… let’s say a young boy growing up in Rhode Island with six brothers pretending to go to soccer practice when he was really going to sewing class and reading Runway under the covers at night with a flashlight. You have no idea how many legends have walked these halls. And what’s worse, you don’t care. Because this place, where so many people would die to work you only deign to work. And you want to know why she doesn’t kiss you on the forehead and give you a gold star on your homework at the end of the day. Wake up, sweetheart.”

This movie is about the oftentimes twisted inner workings of the fashion industry and how it changes an intern named Andy Sachs.  Stanley plays Nigel, the somewhat gay editor of Runway Magazine who works with the definition of rhymes-with-witch, Miranda Priestly.  I love Stanley’s role in this movie because he’s just adorable.  He has Andy’s best interests at heart, often giving her that final push when she needs it.  (See the quote above.)  He has so many great scenes – most of which were ad-libbed, if you watch the bloopers, which just attests to Stanley’s absolute genius.  One of my favorite scenes isn’t in the movie.  (Katelyn knows which one I’m talking about.  THE GIRLS, KATELYN.  THE GIRLS.)  Also, this is his second movie with Meryl Streep, and they’re both completely different people in this one, which totally displays their versatility as actors.  Gah, I can’t.)

I’m slooooowly working my way through Stanley’s entire filmography, and some of the movies at the top of my To Watch list are The Pelican Brief, Shall We Dance (because hE DANCES!), The Company You Keep (which my parents watched without me and sent the Netflix DVD back before I could see it and I have no bitterness towards them WHATSOEVER), Spotlight (which also stars Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams), Big Night (Stanley and Tony Shalhoub’s first shared screen), and, of course, Beauty and the Beast (!!!!!!!).

So what do you think of my list?  Have you seen any of these movies?  What are your thoughts about them?  Anything to say just about Stanley in general?  (Just letting you know, if you bash him at all, I’ll bash you right back because he is perfection.)

my favorite twenty øne piløts songs.

top frikkin punkI like a lot of different music – pop, slow rock, Christian contemporary, opera, musicals, even country (pretty much limited to Hunter Hayes and Taylor Swift, though).  I’ve never loved blues or jazz because the winds hurt my ears.  I’ve listened to rap my entire life, but didn’t really enjoy it up until about a year ago, when I was introduced to twenty øne piløts and Hamilton.  (I’ve been a fan of Hamilton since like last February, though.  #hipsterfan)  Since I’ve started liking rap, I’ve branched out to include Heath McNease (kind of hip-hop rap) and… well that’s it, but I’m getting there!

I’ve really fallen in love with tøp, though, and have become such trash that I’ve even started listening to Tyler’s pre-tøp solo album, since I’ve memorized all of the songs from their other albums, including the unreleased songs.  (‘Time to Say Goodbye’ included.  “And I’m standing on a tower trying my hardest to make it to You but I built this tower out of mortal bricks, so break it.  I truly will surrender my pretender, my disguise, and I’ll truly start to render to Your splendor so it’s time to say goodbye.”  Listen to it.  You know you want to.)  I’m so glad they’re getting recognized now, and basically everybody knows who they are because of ‘Stressed Out’ slowly emerging on the radio.  And now everybody’s in the sick-as-frick skeleton clique of ukulele screamo art.

I want to just list their entire discography for my favorite songs list, but if you only have a short amount of time (before getting totally obsessed and listening to all of their music), listen to these, my absolute favorites.  (They’re ranked by order of release, not by favorite.  Because you guys know I can’t do that.)

Drown || No Phun Intended (Tyler’s solo album)

Here I come again to You / Just to show that blood soaked through / Through my bones and all I own / Is there a way for me to grow? / I walk to You, rain falls from You / Can You wash me? Can You drown me? / Please?

This song actually has the beginning of a later tøp song (‘Fall Away‘) in it, starting from “Every time I feel selfish ambition is taking my vision,” which is probably why I love it so much.  It’s so beautiful – a heart-wrenching plea for God and the waves of His mercy and grace to drown us.  Another line really sums up where I am right now: “Back and forth between being me and who You call me to be.”

Addict with a Pen || twenty øne piløts

You specialize in dying / You hear me screaming Father / And I’m lying here just crying / So wash me with Your water

I discovered this album after I listened to all of Blurryface and Vessel (bless you, Amazon Prime Music), and this was the first song I fell in love with, partially because I’m a writer, but mostly because it’s just beautiful.

Air Catcher || twenty øne piløts

And I just don’t say what you want to hear / So I’ll write my fears / And I don’t believe in talking just to breathe / And falling selfishly // I won’t fall in love with falling / I will try to avoid those eyes / ‘Cause I’m not sure I want to give you tools that can destroy my heart

This song is kind of the antonym to ‘Tear in My Heart.’  I initially loved this song basically because of the words and the ending (that harmony – oh my gosh), but I really fell in love with it when I connected with it a few months ago.

Isle of Flightless Birds || twenty øne piløts

How frustrating and so degrading / His time, we’re wasting / As time will fly by and the sky will cry as light is fading / And He is waiting, oh so patiently / While we repeat the same routine as we will please comfortability / Please don’t think about why you can’t sleep in the evening / And please don’t be afraid of what your soul is really thinking / Your soul knows good and evil, your soul knows both sides / And it’s time you pick your battle, and I promise you this is mine

I’ve already talked to you guys about this song, but that’s why it’s on this list – I love it so much!  It’s so great (once you get past the different styles).  This one’s just amazing.  The meaning really hit me when I listened to it a few months ago and it’s been a favorite ever since.

Kitchen Sink || Regional at Best

Are you searching for purpose? / Then write something, yeah it might be worthless / Then paint something then, it might be wordless / Pointless curses, nonsense verses / You’ll see purpose start to surface / No one else is dealing with your demons / Meaning maybe defeating them / Could be the beginning of your meaning, friend.

This song doesn’t have many words, but when it does… they’re amazing.  The verse above really inspires me to write when I feel like nobody cares about what I write, and to write about the things that I’m personally struggling with.  (Plus, I’ve almost got Zack’s rap down.  *sunglasses emoji*)

Glowing Eyes || Regional at Best

I know there’s someone at the door / They called for help, of this I’m sure / But do I want to say goodbye to all the glowing eye / I’m holding on to what I know / And what I know, I must let go / But I would rather play a song for the eyes to sing along.

This one’s a contradiction because of how happy it sounds, but the lyrics are so down.”  This is the song I dance to at three in the afternoon when I’m the only one at home.  I had it stuck in my head a few weeks ago when I was taking a final, and I rewarded passing by going home and dancing to it again.  The part where Tyler sings, “Redemption’s not that far, and darkness is going down” always makes me so happy.  And the line that goes, “We all know somebody who know somebody who’s doing great; I know some people who know people who are flying straight” is SO ACCURATE.  And Josh sings part of it (listen at 1:34 for him in the background), so YAY.

Lovely || Regional at Best

Won’t you stay alive? / I’ll take you on a ride / I will make you believe you are lovely.

This is one of those songs I wish I could sing to certain people late at night, accompanied by some sick ukulele.  (And sometimes that person is myself.)

Clear || Regional at Best

I’m the son of all I’ve done / Impostor, been fostered, then my new father drained my dirty blood // I will tell you what I can / But your mind will take a stand / I sing of a greater love / Let me know when you’ve had enough.

This is the song I tell people to go listen to when they say that tøp isn’t Christian.  (I mean, we can get into that debate in the comments, but the way I see it, it’s a band by Christians with subliminal Christian messages – “cleverly masking [His] words,” if you will.  And that’s good enough for me.)  It’s about witnessing and sharing the Gospel with people.  I especially love the last chorus.

Holding Onto You || Vessel

Fight it / Take the pain, ignite it / Tie a noose around your mind / Loose enough to breathe fine and tie it to a tree / Tell it, “You belong to me / This ain’t a noose, this is a leash. / And I have news for you: you must obey me.”

This is the first tøp song that made me cry.  We’re talking ugly sobbing in the car while I’m driving to the preschool to pick up the kids I nanny.  It was not a pretty sight – but it changed me forever.  (Go watch the official music video, then the behind the scenes video and try not to cry.  And then come listen to the song again and let yourself cry because this is a beautiful song.)

Screen || Vessel

I do not know why I would go / In front of You and hide my soul / Cause You’re the only one who knows it.

This is the second song from Vessel that I fell in love with, and I think it’s pretty accurate.  It’s about coming to God, totally opened to Him, and letting Him take control.  The “we’re broken people” chorus in the end is Oceans-Spirit-lead-me levels of glory and wonder.  And the snarkiness behind the line, “While you’re doing fine, there’s some people and I who have a really tough time getting through this life, so excuse us while we sing to the sky” is just unreal.  This is why I love Tyler Joseph.

Polarize || Blurryface

Polarize is taking your disguises / Separating them, splitting them up from wrong and right / It’s deciding where to die and deciding where to fight / Deny, deny, denial.

I sang this song the other day as I was trying to keep myself from getting into a meaningless argument with a friend, and it was kind of crazy how much it helped.  Plus the screamo part totally lightened my mood.  (And I can’t sing this song without thinking of this Vine.  “Help me bowl o’ rice, help me bowl o’ rice…”)

Goner || Blurryface

Though I’m weak and beaten down / I’ll slip away into this sound / The ghost of you is close to me / I’m inside-out, you’re underneath // Don’t let me be gone // I’m a goner, somebody catch my breath / I wanna be known by You.

Yes, this is a cover, but it’s Dodie and I love her, so in the words of Anthony Mackie, “Deal with that.”  (Here’s the tøp version, complete with screaming.)  This is such a beautiful song, it deserves a beautiful piano-only cover, sung in the most pleading, heart-wrenching way possible.

Two more random favorites that don’t really count are Tyler’s cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (which may be my first dance song at my wedding) and “Twenty One Pilots Down on the Farm” (you know you want to watch it).  (Oh, and “The Judge,” which I just learned to play on the ukulele.  *sunglasses emoji*)

Again, I love all of their songs, but these are my absolute favorite.  So what about you guys?  See any you like?  What about ones you LOVE?!  Let’s talk!

“yer a wizard, harry.”

So this is the Harry Potter post you all have been waiting for!  Read it or don’t read it; comment or don’t comment.  I don’t care.  These are just my thoughts on the subject and the conclusions I’ve personally come to after deciding to read the Harry Potter series.  (Read my first post about it here, which I wrote soon after I finished the first three books.  I’ll probably unintentionally repeat some of what I said in that post, but it might be good for you {and me!} to compare my thoughts then with my thoughts now.)

All was well.

-J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

harrypotter.jpgWith that quote, the book series that I’d been completely obsessed with for the past five months came to a close.  I shut the book, hugged it to my chest, and cried and cried and cried.  Not because it was sad or anything (okay, that was part of the reason), but because it was over.  This amazing book series that I’d fallen in love with had ended.

AND I DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH ANYTHING ANYMORE.

I hadn’t even expected to get into it that much.  I only personally knew of a few people who had read it (and loved it).  Most of my friends were completely against it.  I had been against it, too.  Then I entered that awkward phase of my life when my dad started letting me make my own decisions about the stuff I let into my mind (and dealing with the consequences I bring on myself).  (If you’re not there yet, you’re probably looking forward to it.  It’s incredible but it’s also incredibly daunting.  Making these kinds of decisions for myself has been amazing… but it’s also been hard.  Sometimes I wish my dad would just tell me what to do sometimes.  It’s hard to know what’s good and bad when you’re just starting to decide where your convictions are.  As wise old Uncle Ben once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”  *end unintentional tangent*)

From everything I’d read about the series, I thought it was some kind of evil witchcraft book that made you become obsessed with (and possibly even unconsciously join) the occult.  I thought all of the characters were evil and knew that they were doing wrong things all the time.  Furthermore, I thought the series was dark and evil and had no redeemable qualities at all.  (It was, after all, about wizards and witches.)

harrypotter12Boy howdy, was I wrong.

This just goes to show that you should take everything with a grain of salt.  Either Edgar Allan Poe or Benjamin Franklin said, “Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear.”  Just like you should always double-check what you’re hearing in church with what the Bible actually says, you should probably align what people say with what God says because people are biased.

For the first twenty years of my life, Harry Potter wasn’t in the gray area at all.  In my mind, it was completely evil and there weren’t any good lessons to be learned from it.

Then, someone recommended it a year or so after my dad started letting me make decisions for myself, and I asked him if I could read it and he said yes and the rest is history.

I really can’t explain how much I loved this series.  I haven’t connected so much to a series in such a long time.  Also, believe it or not, this series was THE BEST “secular” series I’ve ever read because it had so many allusions to Biblical lessons.  (Notice that I said “allusion” rather than “allegory.”  The Harry Potter series is not an allegory and should never be called one.)  In some respects, it was even better than some of the explicitly Christian books I’ve read because it contained everything I’ve always wanted from Christian fiction but never get.  I kid you not.

So why did I love it so much?  Well, sit back and I’ll tell you.

The Magic

harrypotter6Before I get into all of the amazing things about it, let me clear something up.  The Harry Potter series does not have real-life, occult magic in it.  Occult magic (such as séances and witchcraft rituals and demonic powers) very much exists and we should definitely stay away from it.  However, John Granger says in his book Finding God in Harry Potter, “The magic in Harry Potter is no more likely to encourage real-life witchcraft than time travel in science fiction novels encourages readers to seek passage to previous centuries.”

Others have explained the type of magic in Harry Potter better than I can, but my (extremely simplified) explanation of the difference between the magic in Harry Potter and the very real, very evil magic in the world, is that, rather learning how to do something that is, until that time, unknown to them (as with Wiccan rituals), the characters in this series merely learn how to control something that has always been a part of them.  They didn’t have to learn how to invite the magic into them or whatever – it was always a part of them.  (Much like Elsa from Frozen, whose icy powers were never explained other than the fact that “she’s always had them,” and Mary Poppins, who can make toys and bedsheets do her bidding by snapping her fingers and can fly around the world and jump into chalk drawings.)   For instance, in the very first book, pre-Hogwarts Harry misuses his gift because he’s angry at his cousin.  Later in the series, it’s revealed that Tom Riddle did the same thing to some of his fellow orphans at the orphanage.

My favorite explanation came from a Christianity Today article entitled “Redeeming Harry Potter.”

If Rowling intended Harry Potter as Wiccan propaganda, I’d be the first to jump ship. But the author is emphatic: she doesn’t believe in magic. So how can she be promoting witchcraft as a religion? Instead, she uses magic as a vehicle for the plot—a literary device for the story’s themes. … Harry wasn’t taught how to be a wizard, he was taught how to control something that was already inside of him. He doesn’t invoke dark powers or evil spirits to do his bidding, he simply uses his genetic abilities (much like a superpower) for good. C.S. Lewis, in defending the “magic” in his Narnia books, calls this “Incantational Magic.” … Ultimately, the source of the characters’ powers isn’t really addressed, and that’s fine for the purpose of the story. Rowling places far more emphasis on how the individuals choose to use their powers and abilities in relation to others. Magic has traditionally been used in this way as a metaphor in classic literature, as something that can hold meaning in our own lives.

Now, obviously, if you’ve got a problem with where the magic comes from, you’ll have a problem with the books (which is the case with some of my relatives).  But since I’ve researched J.K. Rowling (aka Jo)’s intentions with the magic (she only uses it as a plot device and she doesn’t believe in the occult {read this article if you don’t believe me}), and I know she often gets annoyed when people accuse her of putting the occult in there.  So that’s good enough for me.

(Side Note: The first book is only called The Sorcerer’s Stone in the US.  Everywhere else, it’s The Philosopher’s Stone.  The only reason it was changed in the US is because the US publisher, Arther Levine, thought that no one would buy a children’s book with “philosophy” in the title.)

Good vs. Evil

One of the greatest strengths of the Potter series is its treatment of right and wrong.  Rowling loves playing with duality in the characters, showing that we’re all capable of good or evil, yet always clearly distinguishing between the two.  Things aren’t always as they seem in Harry Potter, but we’re always clear on right and wrong.  It is, in fact, a key line to look for in Goblet of Fire, when wise mentor Professor Dumbledore explains to Harry that he will face the choice between “doing what is right and what is easy.” (Russ Breimeier, Redeeming Harry Potter)

harrypotter11This was seriously one of my favorite aspects of the books.  As John Granger explains in Finding God in Harry Potter, the battle in this series is between “good guys who serve truth, beauty, and virtue, and bad guys who lust after power and private gain.”  The central conflictis between good and bad, specifically between the descendants Godric Gryffindor (Harry) and Salazar Slytherin (Voldemort).  (Jo hasn’t confirmed that Harry’s a descendant of Gryffindor, but I think it’s a given and I’m betting it’ll be revealed in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.)  The symbolism of this is all over the place.  Just look at Gryffindor’s symbol (a lion) versus Slytherin’s (a snake).  Sound familiar?

But, just like in real life, the good guys aren’t all good (e.g. Peter Pettigrew, a Gryffindor) and the bad guys aren’t all bad (e.g. Reglulus Black and Draco Malfoy, both Slytherins and, um, hello, Severus Snape).  Unlike a lot of the books I read, none of the characters are perfect.  There isn’t a Mary Sue or a Gary Stu to be had in the entire series.  Every single character has their faults.  For instance, Harry idolizes his father, thinking him to be the model of perfection, and it’s only when he relives one of Snape’s memories that he realizes this is not the case.  Ron is a bit of a selfish brat at times, Hermione can be unforgiving, and even Harry himself performed a few Unforgivable Curses (the Cruciatus Curse three times and the Imperius Curse once).  Even Dumbledore, who is one of the wisest characters I’ve ever come across in any of the books I’ve ever read, definitely has his faults.

Like every human being, they struggle with how to act in situations.  As Dumbledore tells Harry once, “Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”  Even though they’re conflicted regarding decisions most of the time, Harry, Ron, and Hermione always do the right thing.  Even Neville my precious cinnamon roll child, who has the most reason to hate Voldemort (whose underling tortured his parents almost to death and was successful in the destruction of their minds), still fights for what’s right and never acts out in anger.

However, the lines between good and evil are clearly drawn.  Whenever Voldemort was in any of the books, I couldn’t help but feel utter horror at everything he did.  As we learn in the last two books, Voldemort is only able to do everything he does because he’s willing to kill – “the supreme act of evil,” as someone else in the series defines it.  “That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to comprehend.  Of house-elves and children’s tales, of love, loyalty, and innocence, Voldemort knows and understands nothing.  Nothing.”  As Dumbledore tells Harry in Deathly Hallows, “Do not pity the dead, Harry.  Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love.”  His incapacity to understand love is his ultimate downfall.

Like Tolkien, Rowling’s depiction of evil is incredibly Augustinian. Early Church father St. Augustine defines evil as a perversion of the good. He also emphasizes that evil is not an equal match of the Good, but far weaker. As something good becomes twisted and warped, it moves closer to nonbeing. Lord Voldemort is really a perfect example of this. As he becomes more deeply entrenched in evil, he becomes less and less human, less and less alive. The acts of murder and cruelty he carries out literally tear apart his soul making his being less whole. He is a shadow of a man. The quest for power without goodness is truly a journey toward pathetic and grotesque brokenness as is portrayed in the King’s Cross chapter in The Deathly Hallows when Harry is face to face with a visual depiction of Voldemort’s soul. Like the White Witch in Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, evil according to the Potter books cannot even comprehend the great strength of love and is ultimately destroyed by it.  (Haley Stewart, Why Your Kids Need to Read Harry Potter)

Which brings me to my next point…

Love

harrypotter2In stark contrast to this is the love that is shown to Harry and everyone else on the good side.  In the very first chapter of the very first book, there is an example of John 15:13 love.  Harry’s mother, Lily, sacrificed her life for Harry’s, which is the reason he’s still alive in the beginning of the first book.  You don’t need a neon sign to see it.  Dumbledore tells Harry in The Philosopher’s Stone, “Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign… to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.”  Later, in Order of the Phoenix, Dumbledore explains, “But I knew too where Voldemort was weak. And so I made my decision. You would be protected by an ancient magic of which he knows, which he despises, and which he has always, therefore, underestimatedto his cost. I am speaking, of course, of the fact that your mother died to save you. She gave you a lingering protection he never expected, a protection that flows in your veins to this day.”

This John 15:13 love is repeated over and over and over again in the books.  Harry risks his life for Ginny Weasley in the second book, then again in the last book.

Harry is shown love, too, by the Weasleys.  Since he doesn’t have a loving family, they take him in over the holidays almost every year so he doesn’t have to go home to the Dursleys.  They treat him like he’s a member of the family, both by giving him gifts at Christmas (which, as explained in the first book, are his first Christmas gifts ever {which made me totally sob}) and making him help clean their house for a wedding in Deathly Hallows.

harrypotter10.jpgInstead of going on and on (trust me, I can), I’ll just highlight one more of my favorite examples of love in this series.  In the sixth book, one of the characters has his face slightly disfigured by a werewolf.  His mother is afraid that his fiance won’t marry him anymore because of the scarring.  She insists that she will, which makes another character, Tonks, turn to the man she loves, Remus Lupin (a werewolf) my other precious cinnamon roll child, and say, “You see!  She still wants to marry him, even though he’s been bitten!  She doesn’t care!”  Lupin insists that the cases are different, but Tonks shuts him down.  “But I don’t care either, I don’t care!  I’ve told you a million times!”  (And then Lupin insists that she needs someone “young and whole” and Mrs. Weasley says “But she wants you.  And after all, Remus, young and whole men do not necessarily remain so.”  And then I started crying again.)  Tonks insists that she loves Remus for who he is, even though he thinks he’s unable to be loved.  Which just goes to show that there will always be someone out there who will love you, despite how unlovable you think you are.  (#thingsHarryPottertaughtme)

Themes

Dang, y’all.  The themes!  Love was just the beginning.

Somebody asked me via text what I thought of the series and what I learned from it, so I let them have it.  Here’s what I said:

Well I love the importance the books place on joy and that the act of simply being happy can overcome anything (“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one remembers to turn on the light“) and the amazing lessons of friendship and loyalty and “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live” and HELLO the importance of living with love (bc living without love ended up being Voldemort’s downfall). There’s such an emphasis on family, too, and the importance family can have on your life. Harry was raised by his relatives who didn’t love him at all and didn’t realize that there were good people in the world who loved their families until he met the Weasleys. And everybody always points out how Hermione is such a bookworm and a study freak but it’s true and I kinda wish I’d had her as a role model when I was younger. And HELLO the many many maaaaany instances of John 15:13 love that is praised over and over and over. And Dumbledore’s insistence that even though something’s happening in your head, it doesn’t make it any less real. And his other words of wisdom to Harry that we should pity those who live without love. And Sirius’s quote that says something like that we all live with darkness and light inside of us and it’s the part that we act on that defines us. And then there’s my favorite character, who taught me that no matter what you think is wrong with you, someone will always be there to love you despite it.  And then the friendships in the stories that only grow deeper through trials and the love that’s shown to everyone and I don’t even know I just have so many feelings.

(Yeah.  Don’t ask me questions like that {especially via text} if you don’t want me to fangirl all over you.)

In addition to all of that…

harrypotter13.jpgLaughter – Rowling places a distinct importance of laughter and happiness in the books.  Someone on Tumblr said, “Happiness isn’t just a feeling—it’s a weapon. Look at how harry and his friends fight: with riddikulus, laughter stymies a creature made of fear; with expecto patronum, the very memory of happiness beats back the grim forces of depression.” (See the rest of their post here.)  (Also, may I just add that Lupin originally taught Harry and the gang those spells and I just think that’s significant.)

Truth – These books also have so many good lessons about truth and the consequences of lying.  In the sixth book, Harry finds a spellbook owned by the Half-Blood Prince.  Hermione is against him using any of the spells written in the book because he doesn’t know who the owner really is, and when Harry ignores her warning, it almost leads to death for one of his classmates.  As Dumbledore says in the first book, the truth “is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”

harrypotter4.jpgCourage – Harry and his friends learn so much about bravery in this series.  They face many shiver-inducing circumstances, but they don’t back down.  (Well, {spoiler} except for Ron That One Time in Deathly Hallows, but he comes back with a firmer resolve to be brave.)  Especially Neville, who learns the most about bravery from book one.  (“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” – Albus Dumbledore)

Society – I was watching a scene from Half-Blood Prince and this comment really struck me: “Draco Malfoy’s character just shows how society shapes an individual. He was born to a racist father, and spent his childhood in the midst of people who considered Muggles [normal people without magic] to be beneath them. He was taught that money and power was everything from his childhood. Considering such an upbringing, he actually turned out to be a real gem of a person.”  (And I think his character was more dimensional in the last three movies than in the last two books.  In the books, he was scared of what he’d promised to do, but we see it more in the movies and the inner turmoil he suffers through.)

The Value of Human Life – Just like Harry’s mother sacrifices her life for Harry’s, the value of others’ lives is explicitly shown.  Nobody was worth less than anyone else.  Even Hermione fought hard for the freedom of house elves, even though they were literally made to be servants.  Every death is accounted for and mourned (which leads to a lot of sobbing, both from the characters and the reader).  “We’re all human, aren’t we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.”  (Kingsley Shacklebolt, Deathly Hallows.)

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In Conclusion

“Wherever we see beauty, light, truth, goodness, we see Christ. Do we think him so small that he couldn’t invade a series of books about a boy wizard? Do we think him cut off from a story like this, as if he were afraid, or weak, or worried? … The Harry Potter story is subject to him, too, and Jesus can use it however he wants. In my case, Jesus used it to help me long for heaven, to remind me of the invisible world, to keep my imagination active and young, and he used it to show me his holy bravery in his triumph over the grave.” (Andrew Peterson, Harry Potter, Jesus, and Me)

So, yeah, I did love this series.  I’ll probably read the books again soon, and I know I’ll watch the movies again soon.  (I’ve seen some of them multiple times because I love them so much – especially Prisoner of Azkaban, which was my favorite book before I fell in love with Deathly Hallows.)

I’ll be the first to admit that the series has its faults.  The Voldemort scenes repulsed me because he’s so evil (which all great villains are supposed to be).  A few of the characters got on my nerves (looking at you, Ron).  And a lot of the characters died, which is definitely a fault (*weeps silently*).

But it was also amazing.  And I’ve already gone into too much detail about why I thought it was so amazing, but I’ll say it again – IT WAS AMAZING.  That was half of the reason why I cried when it was over.  Because it was over, yes, but also because it was so phenomenal.  The story of how Jo wrote it still blows my mind and inspires me to write engaging and complex literature, too.

The thing I loved the most about it, though, was the fact that it inspired me to fight for good.  In his book, Finding God in Harry Potter, John Granger says that the series “fulfills our God-implanted longing to resist evil and serve the good.”

I can’t agree more.

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twelve couples i’ll always be in love with.

First of all, Happy Valentine’s Day!

I thought for a good five minutes about what I wanted to write about today.  I usually do a post on contentment and singleness, but I think I’ve said all I need to on the subject.  (See those posts here, here, and here – all of which, I realize after re-reading all of them, bemoan the infamous Valentine’s Day Banquet of ’13 – LOL.  They’re actually pretty decent, too, so if you want to hear my thoughts on contentment, they’re worth a read.)

But today is not about being single.  Today is about relationships.  And if we’re not in relationships, we can at least obsess over those who are, right?

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Today, I’ve decided to write about book and movie couples that are in love and that I am in love with (because that’s way less depressing than dwelling on how single I am, lol).  (Just kidding; I’m actually totally content right now.  So yay.)

These aren’t couples who are just cute together (because I could write about cute fictional couples for dayzzz).  These are couples who have stuck together through thick and thin and love each other despite the trials they go through.  They fight for their relationship and defy the odds.  They may not have fallen in love at first sight, but their relationship lasted because of the circumstances that brought them together and kept them together.

In no particular order (cuz you guys should know by now that I hate picking favorites), here are the twelve fictional couples that have basically defined all of my relationship goals.

Honorable Mentions:
Lulu and Liam {The Little Women Letters}
Mac and Rose {Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom}
Flynn and Rapunzel {Tangled}
Cath and Levi {Fangirl}
Katniss and Peeta {The Hunger Games Trilogy}
Kathleen and Joe {You’ve Got Mail}
Alexander and Eliza {Hamilton and also a real-life couple}
Roy and Dale {the Roy Rogers movies and also a real-life couple}

(And Clintasha would be right at the top but Joss woN’T STOP BLOWING HOLES IN MY SHIPS.  GAH.  *Hulks out*)

Shirtbert {Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe} | Anne of Green Gables

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These two.  GOSH, these two.  Ever since they first met in Anne of Green Gables, I knew they’d fall in love.  Except Anne was so blind to how much Gil loved her (and she was so deluded about what love really is) that it didn’t happen for a while.  *shakes head*  Silly Anne.  I mean, the guy gave up his position at a school for her!  He also saved her in a boat and NUMEROUS other amazing things.  Together, they make such a great couple.

“Anne, you have tricked something out of that imagination of yours that you call romance. Have you forgotten how he gave up the Avonlea school for you so that you could stay here with me? He picked you up everyday in his carriage so that you could study your courses together. Don’t toss it away for some ridiculous ideal that doesn’t exist.”

Copanga {Cory Matthews and Topanga Lawrence} | Boy Meets World

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OKAY.  I’ve been a huge fan of Boy Meets World for about two and a half years now (although it seems like longer) and their relationship is just so. many. goals.  They were friends for years and years before they got into an official relationship in the second season.  Their relationship withstood high school, the first two years of college, three break-ups (not including Topanga’s parents’ divorce).  Fourteen years later, in Girl Meets World, they’re still together and just as much in love as they were when they first started dating.

“Over half of all marriages fail.  It’s even worse for people our age.”
“Every statistic that you throw at me is going to be about other people.  I don’t care about other people – I care about you and me!  If every marriage failed except one, I’d guarantee that one would be ours.”

Laurie x Jo {Theodore Lawrence and Josephine March} | Little Women

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Okay, this is the only couple in this entire post who didn’t actually end up together.  (Jo and I may agree on everything else, okay, and I’m sorry, but I’ll ship this ’til the day I die.)  From the start, their friendship just screamed “ROMANCE!” and it seriously irked me that they didn’t end up together.  Because they totally should have.  They were so alike in so many ways, and they may have fought a lot, but what couple doesn’t?!  Ugh.  Anyway, I ship them like there’s no tomorrow.

“I have loved you since the moment I clapped eyes on you. What could be more reasonable than to marry you?”  (THAT’S WHAT I SAID.)

Knighthouse {Emma Woodhouse and George Knightley} | Emma

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Emma is my favorite Jane Austen story because the love interests shaped each other more than any other of her couples.  (Did Darcy have the influence on Lizzie that Knightley did on Emma?  NO.  I rest my case.)  I love stories that do this so. much.  Why is a person in your life romantically if not to mold you into someone better?  Food for thought.  If ever a couple was destined to be together, it was Emma and Knightley.  Even though he’s like seventeen years older than her.

“So, tell me, have I no chance of succeeding?  My dearest Emma, for that is what you always have been and you always will be, my most beloved Emma.  I cannot make speeches.  If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more, but you know what I am.  I have lectured you and scolded you and you have born it as no other woman would have.”

(I also desperately love Cher and Josh from Clueless, and their relationship is defined so well and I love them and baby Paul Rudd is just the sweetest little cinnamon roll.)

Julie x Eric // Julia x Paul {Julie and Eric Powell, and Julia and Paul Child} | Julie and Julia

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These two couples are new additions to my stock of Relationship Goals, but I knew they had been added the first time I watched Julie and Julia.  I love the distinction between the two relationships!  Julie and Eric are blissful newlyweds, and Julia and Paul have been married for several years but they’re even more in love than when they first got married.  When I first watched the movie, I told my sister, “Julie and Eric have what I want my newlywed married life to look like, and Julia and Paul have what I want my married-for-thirty-years married life to look like.”  #goals

“You are the butter to my bread and the breath to my life.”

Steggy {Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter} | Captain America: The First Avenger

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Er. mah. gursh.  This is definitely the most tragic couple in my entire list.  They loved each other so much and they didn’t end up together (not married, at least) and that just breaks my heart.  Peggy loved Steve just based on his character, before he was the insanely muscular dude he is halfway through the movie, and if that’s not true love, I don’t know what is.  As soon as Steve said his “I’m waiting for the right partner” line, I was hooked.  (And so was Peggy.)  If ever a couple deserved to be together, it’s Steve and Peggy.

“I’m gonna need a rain check on that dance.”
“All right. A week next Saturday.  At The Stork Club.”
“You’ve got it.”
“Eight o’clock on the dot. Don’t you dare be late. Understood?”
“You know, I still don’t know how to dance.”
“I’ll show you how. Just be there.”

Anastasia x Dimitri {Anastasia Romanova and Dimitri Sudayev} | Anastasia

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When Anastasia and Dimitri first meet, they’re both really just using each other to accomplish their personal goals.  It’s hate at first sight.  When Anastasia and Dimitri have their first angered exchange (“Do you really think I’m royalty?” “You know I do!” “THEN STOP BOSSING ME AROUND.”) and Anastasia sticks her tongue out at him, I’m always just like, “Ohhhh, you two are gonna have it so bad.”  And they do.  They’re always slightly at odds, but in an endearing way.  In the end, Dimitri sacrifices his ambition to find the lost Russian princess for Anastasia (who, spoiler, is the lost princess) and they end up eloping and it’s just beautiful.

“That, uh, that dress looks really good on you.”
“Do you think so?”
“Yeah. I mean, it looked nice on the hanger but it’s even better on you. Y-you, you should wear it!”
“I am wearing it!”
“Oh, oh yes, I was just, um, trying to give you a… a…”
“Compliment?”
“Yeah.”

Robin x Marian {Robin Hood and Lady Marian Fitzwalter} | Robin Hood (1932)

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I grew up with the 1932 version of Robin Hood (here’s the trailer if you haven’t seen it), and I’ve always loved the relationship that Robin and Marian have.  There’s just something about a classic tale of the love between a knight and his lady that I fall for every time. She’s hesitant at first, and he’s madly in love at first sight.  He wins her love by being the dashing hero he is, and she falls for him.  (And then, in the original tale, he dies.  I like this version better – they ride off into the sunset and it’s wonderful.)  It’s just a classic tale of love and I love it muchly.

“Tell me: when you are in love, is it hard to think of anybody but one person?”
“Yes, indeed, m’lady, and sometimes it’s a bit of trouble sleeping.”
“I know! But it’s a nice kind of not sleeping!”
“Yes. And it affects your appetite, too. Not that I’ve noticed it’s done that to you, ‘cept when he was in the dungeon waiting to be hanged.”
“And does it make you want to be with him all the time?”
“Yes. And when he’s with you, your legs are as weak as water. Now, tell me, m’lady: when he looks at you, do you feel a kind of pricky feeling, like goosey pimples running all up and down your spine?”
{Marian blushes}
“Then there’s not a doubt of it!”
“A doubt of what?”
{Robin swings in through the window where he was eavesdropping} “That you’re in love!”

George x Mary {George Bailey and Mary Hatch} | It’s a Wonderful Life

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I’ve been in love with George and Mary ever since I watched It’s a Wonderful Life for the first time (which was so many years ago that I can’t even remember when it was).  We watch the movie every Christmas Eve and I’ve always loved watching George and Mary’s relationship start to build from their childhood to thirty years (and four kids) later.  They’re still so in love and love each other so much despite all of the hardships they go through.  Their trials bring them closer together and idk but that’s what I want more than anything else.  #actualrelationshipgoals

“What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Mary.”
“I’ll take it. Then what?”
“Well, then you can swallow it, and it’ll all dissolve, see… and the moonbeams would shoot out of your fingers and your toes and the ends of your hair… am I talking too much?”

Percy x Marguerite {Sir Percival Blakeney and Marguerite St. Just} | The Scarlet Pimpernel

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M’KAY.  The first time I read The Scarlet Pimpernel (and then binge-read most of the other Scarlet Pimpernel books), I knew I’d ship Percy and Marguerite ’til my dying days.  And, honestly, their relationship is one of the most brutal that I’ve ever seen.  Marguerite loves him even when he thinks she betrayed the St. Cyrs.  And then (in the book, at least) he risked his life to save her (just like he does for others *sheds a single tear*), and it always makes me cry so many happy tears.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Sir Percy.”
“This beholder is enchanted.  If I were to tell you that I adore you, would you have me do so stintingly?”
Adore me?”
“Or would you have me declare it as I feel it?  With all my heart?”
“But you can’t be serious – you know nothing about me!”
“Exactly so.  Which is why I yearn to know everything.  You must tell me all about yourself, in every detail, but oh so slowly, so very slowly, so that it takes a very, very long time.”
“I don’t know whether you’re mad or…”
“Desperately in love?  ‘Tis all the same.”

Remadora {Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks} | Harry Potter

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This one’s a new one, too, but it’s impacted me just as much as the others.  When we first meet Remus Lupin, he feels worthless and unlovable.  Tonks thinks otherwise, and loves him despite what he is.  He protests, but she loves him even more.  Remus and Tonks’ love taught me that there will always be someone to love you, despite the circumstances and despite everything you think that’s wrong with you.  *cries many tears*

“You see!” said a strained voice. Tonks was glaring at Lupin. “She still wants to marry him, even though he’s been bitten! She doesn’t care!”
“It’s different,” said Lupin, barely moving his lips and looking suddenly tense. “Bill will not be a full werewolf. The cases are completely-”
“But I don’t care either, I don’t care!” said Tonks, seizing the front of Lupin’s robes and shaking them. “I’ve told you a million times….”
And the meaning of Tonk’s Patronus and her mouse-colored hair, and the reason she had come running to find Dumbledore when she had heard a rumor someone had been attacked by Greyback, all suddenly became clear to Harry; it had not been Sirius that Tonks had fallen in love with after all.

Finally, to all of the above couples, here are some wise words of advice from Josh Dun.

the big answer post (part 2)

Welcome back!  Here are my answers to the second half of your questions.

TheLonelySparrow asked:

  1. What’s one book you’re really looking forwards to reading this year?
    I thought about this question for a while, but I honestly can’t think of a specific book that’s coming out this year that I want to read.  I heard that John Green is writing a new book, so that’s neat.  Robert Whitlow should have a new book out, and so might Wayne Thomas Batson.  (Those are really the only three authors whose books I always read.)  I mainly just hear about books and read them, as opposed to waiting for a certain book to come out.  I always just read books whenever I get to them, which means that sometimes some are forgotten about.  For the first time this year, I’m making an actual queue of books (writing out a checklist in a notebook and reading the books in that order; something I just invented and idk if it’ll work but we’ll see!) and I’ll be adding new books to that.  (Not related to your question like at all, but I just started rambling.  Sorry.  What can I say?  I love books.  XD)  Some of the books I’ve put on the list that I’m excited about are Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (you’ve got one guess why), The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall (which I got for Christmas and CANNOT WAIT TO READ), Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (a book I got for my birthday), Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (because a dystopian society + book burnings = YES I MUST READ THIS), and If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher (another book I got for my birthday; it’s a friend’s favorite and she wrote notes and stuff throughout the book and I just can’t wait to dive into that).  So, yeah, if you didn’t know it already, I have a super wide taste in literature.  : D

  2. Cupcakes or gingersnaps?
    Ooh.  Good question!  I’m not really a cake person (weird, right?), so I’d say gingersnaps.

  3. Favorite Studio C sketch from season 6 so far?
    Oh my gosh!  The Absent Minded Robber, hands down.  Adam is one of my favorite cast members, and I’m so glad they’re giving him more roles.  His comedic timing is perfection.  Not to mention what he does with this voice.  Everything in that sketch makes me laugh.  If I’m having a hard day, I know I can watch it and instantly feel better.  (“Hmm… this is gonna be a tight month!”  The look on his face and his glasses just CRACKS. ME. UP.  And then his little “NeUGH!” when he slides on the rug – I DIE EVERY TIME.)  I’ll put it below if anybody hasn’t seen it yet.

NessKingsley asked:

  1. When was the last time you gave a big belly laugh and why? (what? Is that a weird question? It is?! Oh. Oops.)
    Not a weird question at all!  (“I LOVE TO LAUGH!  HA-HA-HA-HA!  LONG AND LOUD AND CLEAR!”) Lol, the last time I belly-laughed had to do with something mildly inappropriate.  And since this is an all-ages blog… I’ll keep it to myself.  (#familyinsidejokes)  Let me think…  OH OH OH.  There was a time a few weeks ago when I reeeeeally laughed over something (like, tears streaming down my face).  I was watching this video called “COMPANY IS COMING” and it was absolutely hilarious by itself, but the fact that my mom was in the other room about to do the exact same thing (we were having a Bible study that night) just KILLED me.  If your mom doesn’t act like that when guests are coming… wow.  Such self-control.  Much stress free.  (Don’t watch any of his other videos; this one doesn’t have language, but the two others that I watched do.)

  2. If you could meet either Bucky Barnes OR Steve Rogers, who would it be?
    Well, if I met Bucky, I’d probably just give him a hug and a blanket, but if I met Steve, I’d have to marry him.  (Obviously.)  So I pick Steve.  : )

  3. What’s your favourite flavour of ice cream?
    Mint chocolate chip or Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia.  YUMMMMM.

  4. Would you rather attempt to escape from a) an angry dragon or b) a diving pterodactyl?
    A diving pterodactyl.  I have a bigger chance of outrunning that than the flames from an angry dragon.

Jessica Prescott asked:

  1. What’s your favorite Old Book (as in, book published before 1960)?
    Shockingly enough, I’ve never been a huge fan of Old Books.  They’re daunting and written in language I can’t immediately understand.  (And I have the attention span of a twig.)  I’ve only just recently gotten into Adultish Old Books (Austen, Dickens, Gaskell, etc) that were written longer than like a decade ago, and it’s been interesting to see how easily I’ve gotten into them.  I have like four dozen old classics on my mental To Be Read list, and I think I’m going to get to a lot of them this year.
    All that to say that my favorite (besides like Lord of the Rings or the Narnia series) is probably The Four-Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright.  (GOSH, I LOVE THAT BOOK.  My childhood.  You don’t even know.)  It’s the second in a series of four, and I consider the characters to be some of my closest and oldest friends.  As a second-born, I connected the most with Rush.  And, hello, discovering a hidden room in your house???  HOW NEAT.  The other books are fantastic, too, but this one’s my favorite.  It’s a kids book, but I love it.

  2. What’s your favorite music to listen to? (Genre, particular singers/composers, etc.)
    HA.  This is such a hard question to answer because… I listen to everything.  Like, everything.  Musicals, modern pop, contemporary Christian, indie, rap, soft rock… everything except country (except I listen to Hunter Hayes, so I may not even be able to say that, lol).  Lately, though, I’ve been listening to a lot of Sleeping at Last, Rend Collective, Tenth Avenue North, Adele, Taylor Swift, and VeggieTales (with the kids I nanny).

  3. What color are your eyes? (If you don’t mind me asking.)
    Very very very blue.  I get a lot of compliments on them and I never know what to say.  XD

  4. Which Narnia book did you like best, and why?
    I love origin stories, so I’ve always said that The Magician’s Nephew is my favorite, but I also love The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  It’s just such a classic, and holds so many good memories for me.  And Edmund’s fall and redemption just gets me every time.  “But even a traitor may mend.  I have known one who did.”

  5. If you could be in charge of making ANY book into a movie–which book would you pick? And whom would you cast as the leads?
    Well, I’d love to see a reboot of The Scarlet Pimpernel made with Tom Hiddleston as Sir Percy, but I’d really love to see somebody do Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom.  Little Women is fantastic, but I seriously (seriously) love those two, and I think they’d make great movies.  The second one would be so feelsy, though (actually, they’d both be pretty bad), and I don’t know if I can handle that, but it’d be so worth it.  As for the cast, I’d probably cast Saoirse Ronan as Rose, Domhnall Gleeson or Ewan McGregor as Uncle Alec, Garrett Hedlund as Archie, William Moseley as Charlie, Anton Yelchin as Mac, Lupita Nyong’o as Phebe, Emily Blunt as Aunt Jessie, Stanley Tucci as Uncle Mac, and the others are up to the casting director.  : P

  6. Thoughts on Sense and Sensibility 08? (Did you like Elinor, Edward, Marianne, the General Tone and Direction, etc.)
    LOVE LOVE LOVE.  So much love, all around.  All of the actors were fantastic (ESPECIALLY DAN STEVENS AKA MY DARLING), but I didn’t really love David Morrissey as Brandon because we saw him in Our Mutual Friend first.  The General Tone and Direction is just spot. on., and the whole film is just beautiful.  I’ve seen it at least a half a dozen times and I’d like to see it again some time soon but our DVD is scratched.  (Cry all the tears.)  10/10 would recommend.

  7. Do you have pets? What are their names?
    We actually don’t have any currently (RIP our last two cats), but we’ve had seven cats and two dogs.  The first cat we had was Dally, which my mom found as a kitten while she was in college.  We put her down in like 2006.  Then, we found two kittens that had been born near our apartment complex (the mom deserted them, so we took them in), and they were named Jack and Lily.  Jack had to be donated to a pet store because he was too wild, and Lily ran away in like 2006.  Then our four cats were born in our front yard in about 2007, and we named them Smirk, Fatso, Cynthia, and Addy.  Smirk and Fatso were adopted while we were away on vacation (still emotionally scarred from my parents allowing that to happen without telling us ’til we got back), and Cynthia and Addy ended up being boys, so we named them Robert the Bruce and William Wallace (respectfully).  As you do when you’re reading In Freedom’s Cause for your homeschool as a family.  They eventually got eaten by cougars or something near our new house like two years ago.  Finally (wow, this is such a long paragraph), we adopted two dogs that were dropped off in our cul-du-sac, and named them Redd and Bleu (because they had red and blue collars, duh).  Bleu ran away in a storm once and we eventually had to put Redd down.  So, yeah, we’ve had plenty of pets, but we don’t have any right now.  I want a cat at some point.  I think I’ll name him after Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton.

  8. Do you like chicken liver? (Sorry . . . maybe that was a little TOO random 😉 )
    Yuck, no.  (I’ve never tried it but still.)

Feawen Valatiratani

Ooh, how fun! I have only three queries at present, the first of which I’ve had in mind to ask for quite awhile now, hee hee hee. ;]
Oh goodness.  *buckles self in*

  1. What is your MBTI personality type?
    I actually didn’t know ’til last night, and I’d been meaning to take the test, and then when you asked this I just knew I had to do it.  : P  Turns out, I’m INFJ!  I got ENFJ first, but then I took a different test and got INFJ and agreed with that more.  I love my friends, but I feel more relaxed when I’m by myself.  I talk when I’m nervous, so it seems like I’m an extrovert when I first meet people, but I’m always inwardly going, “Shut up shut up shut upppppp.”  (Because I say stupid stuff when I’m put on the spot.  It’s awful.)  Intuitive totally works for me – I see and understand way more than I let on, which makes me seem stupid sometimes, but then I dazzle people with my brilliance, so.  : D  Feeler is completely accurate.  I get excited about stuff a lot (like a lot), but I tend to bottle up stuff sometimes, which is bad, and I’m working on it.  Judger – yeahhhh.  *hides face in hands* mmmmpppphhhhhh *comes out of hiding* I try to think the best of everyone, but if you give me a reason to let you have it, I will.  (And boy will I let you have it.)  I’m a big-picture person, I love deep relationships, and I’m really independent (especially when trying to accomplish tasks – if I’m working on something with my family, I’ll often take the job that I can do by myself, put on headphones, and get it done).  Apparently INFJs are the most rare personality type, but I know two (my sister and one of my best friends).  So either one of us is wrong or it’s an awesome coincidence (ordained by God, of course).

  2. Are you annoyed by anonymous comments and people who sign with Elvish pseudonyms?
    Yes, I’m so annoyed and wish people would just use their real names (and give me your SSN while you’re at it, thankyouverymuch).  : P  Kiddingggggg.  I actually used “Eowyn” as my pseudonym for the first, like, three or four years of having my blog.  So I understand why people use pseudonyms.  (Unless your name is actually Feawen Valatiratani, which is just the coolest thing EVER.)

  3. What one question were you really hoping to be asked when you wrote this post? (And how did you intend to respond?)
    HMMMM… I honestly had no expectations.  I just hoped people would ask questions.  (Which they did and kind of blew my mind.  LOL.)  But since that was a lame answer, I’ll give you a random fact about me: I still have my American Girl dolls in my room on display, and my Bitty Twin (my sister has the other one, and my baby sister commandeered mine from another set we got) and all of the books I have are on one of my bookshelves.  I also made my dad take me to the American Girl store when we went in ’13 and I bought a book and a matching t-shirt set for me and my doll.  Twenty one years old and I still love American Girl.  Who’da thunk.

Hanna asked:

  1. What’s your favorite Sleeping at Last song?
    Wow, that’s hard.  I really love all of his songs, but the ones I keep telling people to listen to are “Mercury” and “Saturn.”  I also love “All This to Say” and “Heaven Breaks.”  His lyrics are just poetry.  I send people the lyrics all the time.

    ‘Cause grey is not a compromise –

    It is the bridge between two sides.
    The shores on which our stubborn land
    And restless seas collide.
    Grey is not just middle ground,
    It is a truce that waits to be signed.
    I would even argue that, from where we stand,
    It most represents the color of God’s eyes.
    101010

  2. Have you ever seen any silent films? If so, which ones and what did you think of them?
    I did a report on silent films once and watched quite a few.  Let’s see… we watched The General starring Buster Keaton, Robin Hood starring Douglas Fairbanks, and I think we also watched The Black Pirate with Douglas Fairbanks.  And I’ve also seen the silent scenes in Singin’ in the Rain.  I’ve also seen Hugo, which is new, but is about silent films.  (I’d also really love to see The Artist, which is a silent film that came out in 2011.)  I love silent films!  Not as much as “talkies,” though.  They have a great quality about them and the actors are really great, too.

  3. Favorites poet(s)?
    Hmm… I don’t really read much poetry, so I can’t say any favorites (although I’m studying different poets for a college course), but I love poems.  One of my favorites is “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning” by John Donne.  I also love a ton of Shakespeare’s sonnets.

  4. Favorite season?
    Either fall, when all of the leaves change and everything is beautiful, or spring, when all the rebirth happens.

  5. And lastly, why is a raven like a writing desk?  😉
    I can’t figure out if that’s a joke or a riddle or just a question.  XD  Um, because whenever I sit at my writing desk and look at old stuff I’ve written, I say “nevermore”?  : P

Eva Schon asked:

  1. Favorite actor and favorite role by that actor?
    Dang it, Eva, you know I can’t pick favorites.  XD  I really really really love Stanley Tucci, though.  I’d watch anything he’s in, solely because he’s in it.  I’ve loved him in everything I’ve seen him in (The Terminal, Kit Kittredge, The Devil Wears Prada, Julie and Julia, Easy A, The Hunger Games, Captain America: The First Avenger), but I think my favorite is either his character in The Devil Wears PradaEasy A, or Julie and Julia.  Gosh, I love him so much.  He brings so much to each role and just brings the character to life in such an amazing way that I haven’t seen in many other actors.  (I also love Domhnall Gleeson, but we can’t talk about him because this paragraph is long enough.)

  2. Favorite actress and favorite role by that actress?
    Ooh, this one’s harder.  I really don’t have a favorite actress.  I think I like Emma Stone the best, though.  I love all of her movies that I’ve seen, and she’s so funny!  Her comedic timing is perfection.  I also love Amy Adams, Emma Thompson, Emma Watson, and Emily Blunt.  (So many Emmas.)

Thank you for asking me questions, guys!  They’ve been so much fun to answer and I hope you guys enjoyed reading my answers.  : )

“we need stories.”

I woke up this morning to find out that Alan Rickman had died.

Gosh.

I first discovered Alan when I watched him win over Marianne as Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility.  To be honest, I didn’t love him all that much, but he eventually won me over.  My mom has been a big fan of his work for forever.  I became a huge fan of him after watching the Harry Potter movies.  He was a brilliant Snape, and nobody could’ve done better.

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The news that he had died hit me even harder than it probably would have because I was already grieving finishing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows last night.

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I honestly can’t process the Harry Potter series.

As I finished the last few hundred pages last night (which I’d put off simply because I didn’t want the series to be over), I cried and cried and cried.  I cried over characters, cried over subplots, cried over symbolism, cried over deaths, and cried over how amazing it was.  Then I closed the book, curled up, and cried because it was over.

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The thing about the series that I just love (besides how amazing it was) is the fact that it touched me (and SO MANY PEOPLE) so much.  Out of the last thirty pictures in my phone, a good twenty of them are of pages of Deathly Hallows – pictures of quotes that I want to write out later so I can remember them.

And listen – amazing doesn’t even describe it.  Outside of explicitly Christian fiction, I have never read any book that echoes the Great Story more.  I’d say it even rivals a lot of the Christian fiction I’ve read.  So much symbolism and morals in not just this last book, but all of them…  GAH.  I can’t.

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Speaking of Alan Rickman, these words of his have been running through my mind.

And it’s a human need to be told stories. The more we’re governed by idiots and have no control over our destinies, the more we need to tell stories to each other about who we are, why we are, where we come from, and what might be possible.
-Alan Rickman (2/21/46 – Always)

Gosh.

Anyway.

Even though I really can’t say anything about this series besides ASDFGHJKL!$%&!^%!*!, I’m working on a follow-up post to my initial Harry Potter post.  Would anybody like to read it?  I think the only disclaimer I’d like to give is that obviously since I loved the series, that’s going to bias my “review” (if I can even write a review, gosh).  I won’t try to challenge your anti-Harry convictions… but I’ll probably fangirl a lot – and if that offends you, don’t read it.  (Unless nobody wants to read it, then I won’t write it and I’ll keep all of my feels bottled up.)

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words of wisdom from wolowitz.